CEATEC, the gigantic Japanese exhibition dedicated to gadgets, gizmos and robots, opened to the public on Tuesday afternoon at the Makuhari Messe convention center, east of Tokyo.
Organizers are hoping for a bigger turnout from the public than last year, when more than 196,000 people attended, as the event came in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Bros. and the start of the downward economic spiral.
All the major names from the world of electronics are represented in the convention hall, displaying their latest creations. Many are mere electronic curios that will never make it to the production phase, but a good number will be in homes around the world in the near future.
Products at the event, first staged in 2000 and now the largest information technology and electronics exhibition and conference in Asia, and second only in the world to the Las Vegas International Consumer Electronics Show, ranged from concept mobile phones to humanoid robots able to ride unicycles, super-fast transmission technology, tiny chips and telephones that operate on fuel cells.
Much of the attention on the opening day was focused on next-generation television technology, with Toshiba unveiling a high-definition TV complete with powerful PS3 Cell processor technology that improves image quality and enhances both colors and brightness. The 55-inch-screen Regza 55X1 includes LED-backlighting, an internal hard-= drive that permits a user to record up to 26 hours of content across eight channels simultaneously.
All that technology does not come cheap, however, and the machine is going on the market in Japan for Y1 million (€7,630) and overseas sales will start next year.
Not to be outdone in the home entertainment stakes, both Panasonic and Sony emphasized their interest in 3D TV technology.
Panasonic is showcasing a 50-inch high-definition 3D plasma television that comes with glasses that make images appear close enough to touch.
"We have introduced concrete plans to deliver the first 3D into people's homes. It won't disappoint," said Yoshiiku Miyata, the company's executive overseeing audio-visual products. No price has been decided for the new TV, which the company hopes to be able to ship next year.
Similarly, Sony is displaying liquid crystal TVs that are able to show 3D images and will go on sale next year, aiming to cash in on the public's apparent interest in 3D entertainment.
Carmaker Nissan is also taking part in the show this year, showing off its EPORO robotic car. The little auto - whose name is short for Episode Zero Robot - is seen as a vehicle that will in the future help humans move more safely and speedily from place to place. EPORO mimics the schooling patterns of fish and uses anti-collision sensors and navigation systems to zip around without bumping into its colleagues.
Other impressive technologies on display include a new long-term Evolution microchip that supports download speeds of 100M bits per second and will be in commercial use next year, light-emitting diodes for fuel-efficient technologies and solar-power systems.
CEATEC exhibition: October 7 -10, 10am - 5pm
Admission: All visitors are required to register, either in advance or at the door. Registering via the www.ceatec.com/ website provides free entry. At the door, the cost is Y1,000 (€7.65) for an adult and Y500 (€3.83) for a student. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free.
Venue: Makuhari Messe International Convention Complex, Mihama-Ku, Chiba City, 261-0023, Japan.